Follow TV Tropes

Following

Film / The Mask of Zorro

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/mask_of_zoro_poster.jpg
Justice leaves its mark.
Advertisement:

The Mask of Zorro is a 1998 film which depicts the retirement of the aging Don Diego de la Vega as Zorro (Anthony Hopkins), and his training of a young punk (Antonio Banderas) as his replacement.

The Mask of Zorro begins with the departure of the Spanish government from California, Northern Mexico. Don Rafael Montero, the Spanish governor of California, makes one last attempt to defeat the legendary outlaw Zorro but fails. Zorro returns home to his wife and baby daughter Elena, telling them that with the Spaniards out of Mexico, Zorro will retire. Not so fast: enter Don Rafael, who has deduced that Zorro is Don Diego. In the struggle that follows, Diego's wife is killed, his house burned to the ground and Rafael absconds with the baby. Zorro is arrested and thrown into prison.

Twenty years later Diego escapes and, now a bitter, impoverished old man with nothing to live for, returns in secret to California. Unfortunately, so has Don Rafael, who has been put back into power by the wealthy Mexican landowners who are still loyal to him; he also has brought Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones), whom he has raised as his own daughter. Meanwhile, young outlaw Alejandro Murieta (Antonio Banderas) has lost his older brother Joaquin to corrupt Texas lawman Captain Harrison Love (Matt Letscher). Later, Diego meets up with Alejandro and offers to train him to become the new Zorro. Rafael and Love, in the meantime, hatch a scheme to purchase California from the President of Mexico, using gold secretly mined from California itself, and then destroy the mine and all the workers inside, forcing Zorro to race to the rescue.

Advertisement:

In 2005, the sequel The Legend of Zorro was released.

This film provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: The audience was delighted to discover Elena wasn't just going to let Zorro take that map. Oh no. It didn't go down like that. And while the sequel is inferior, it was great fun to watch her go Action Mom and have just as many action scenes as her husband.
  • The Alcoholic: Alejandro becomes on after his brother's death. It got bad enough he was willing to sell his brother's medallion for more alcohol before Diego intervened, since he recognized he himself had given them that medallion years ago.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: OK, Zorro is really a nice guy and a gentleman; but when Elena sees him for the first time, she mistakes him for a bandit or someone dangerous, and it's because of this that she is instantly smitten by him.
  • Advertisement:
  • Arch-Enemy: Don Rafael Montero to Don Diego and Captain Love to Alejandro.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil:
    • Don Rafael and the rest of the Dons
    • Averted with Zorro as Diego De La Vega is himself an aristocrat, though he fights for the people and seems fairly cynical towards his social class.
  • At Least I Admit It: The Dons are being given a tour of a gold mine, when 3-fingered Jack, a captured bandit who's being forced to work the mine, calls them out on the fact that the mine workers are treated like slaves:
    Captain Love: Ignore him gentlemen, he's a common thief.
    Jack: Oh, I'm as common as they come, but I ain't nuthin' compared to you! I steal gold, I steal money, but you... you steal people's lives!
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Montero and Love are both leagues above their regular mooks. Especially Montero, who seems to be tied with Don Diego for best pure swordsman in the movie yet still remains a Combat Pragmatist.
  • Award-Bait Song: "I Want To Spend My Lifetime Loving You" by Marc Anthony and Tina Arena. And written by James Horner and Will Jennings, the team responsible for the Titanic (1997) theme, to boot.
  • Babies Ever After: In the closing sequence, Alejandro and Elena are shown to be living together with a son named Joaquin, in honor of Alejandro's brother.
  • Bad Habits:
    • Zorro qualifies by accident when he improvises his way through Elena's confession while hiding in the confessional.
    • The original Zorro disguises himself as a monk in the prologue before revealing himself.
  • Badass Beard: Captain Love
  • Badass Grandpa: Diego de La Vega and his archenemy Don Rafael. Both of them are capable of going one on one with the much younger Alejandro.
  • Badass Moustache: Diego and Rafael both feature very Badass moustaches.
  • Batman Gambit: Don Diego crashed Montero's party to spy on the dons, get the map, get some payback by setting the adjacent fields on fire, and even get close to his daughter. All came in handy later on.
  • Bastardly Speech: By Montero upon his return to California.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: To the extent that it's difficult to tell whether Alejandro and Elena's duel constitutes a fight to the death, or a very elaborate and violent form of foreplay.
  • Beneath Notice: This is how Diego is able to masquerade literally right in front of Montero. Because he is masquerading as a servant, it would not even occur to Montero to take more than a passing glance at him.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Alejandro's brother Joaquin from The Mask of Zorro shot himself rather than get caught.
  • Big Bad: Don Rafael.
  • Big "NO!": Rafael does this twice: first when one of his men tries to shoot Diego and he realizes that Esperanza is in the way; second when Captain Love attempts to shoot Diego with Elena being dangerously close to the old man. The second time, he manages to stop the would-be shooter before history repeats itself.
  • Blood Knight: Captain Love is clearly in search of a Worthy Opponent throughout the movie, and once he becomes convinced that Zorro is one, he tosses away a perfectly good chance to shoot Zorro in exchange for a sword-fight.
  • Blown Across the Room: An especially egregious example has Three-Fingered Jack ride down a mine cart and leap off the track with a pickaxe to attack Captain Love. Love pulls a revolver and shoots him with no visible recoil, and Jack's momentum reverses in midair, sending him tumbling to the ground in a heap.
  • Bodybag Trick: This is the way Diego escapes from prison. Bonus Buried Alive.
  • Book-Ends: The film opens and closes with Zorro drawing his Z mark. In the narrative, Zorro (both old and new) tells a story to his child at the start and close.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Rafael tries to play this straight, telling Diego that he "hasn't given him a second thought" since he had him imprisoned. The fact that his very first action on returning to California was to visit the prison to make sure Diego was dead, however, strongly implies that he was lying and was in fact quite afraid of him, even after twenty years.
  • ...But He Sounds Handsome:
    • Elena goes to confession to confess her recent bouts of misbehavior with Zorro. Of course, Zorro is sitting in the priest section. He prompts her that the masked man must have been "ruggedly handsome", but Elena points out that he was wearing a mask, so she doesn't know. Zorro looks deflated.
    • Inverted later when he's pretending to be a young nobleman at a ball. When the conversation turns to Zorro, he speculates that he probably wears the mask "to cover his bald head and unsightly features."
  • Butt-Monkey: Corporal Garcia, always being outwitted, embarrassed, and outright humiliated in every encounter he is involved in. Choice moments includes being stripped and tied to a cactus, enveloped by a giant map without getting so much as a single strike in, and slamming gutfirst into a tree branch at speed.
  • Call-Back:
    • In the Action Prologue, a young boy runs into a hooded man, assuming he's just another bystander in the crowd, before looking closer and realizing the hooded man is Zorro. Twenty years later in a gold mine, a slave worker is brought some water by another hooded man, who once again, upon closer inspection, is Zorro. The particularly heartwarming part, the boy who noticed the former Zorro became the latter one twenty years down the line.
    • Twice in he movie, Montero and Diego have a confrontation with a woman they both care about in the same room when The Dragon pulls a pistol and tries to shoot Diego. The first time, Esperanza dies, ending the fight and sending Diego into BSOD while Montero kills the man, but the second time, Montero slaps Love's gun away while screaming "Nooooo!" It's a nice touch that continues to show why Montero, while still evil himself, wasn't a bad parent to Elena.
    • Montero receives a wound in his left shoulder in both duels with Don Diego.
  • Cane Fu: An aged Diego de la Vega disarms a drunken Alejandro this way.
  • Cavalry Officer: Captain Love is a twisted example, partially based on the director's vision of a young Custer.
  • Cave Behind the Falls: Zorro's hideout is a fairly visible cave behind a tiny waterfall.
  • Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: Played for Laughs and used realistically. When Zorro and Elena are sword-fighting, they both simultaneously realize "Hey, the other person actually knows what the hell they're doing with that thing," they both simultaneously pause, admire each other, take a step back, remove their movement restricting clothing (his hat and cape, her robe), and resume their fight, all in the space of ten seconds.
  • Chekhov's Gun: When Alejandro is still with his brother and 3-fingered Jack there's a short discussion between the gang and the Mexican authorities explaining that the primary reason why they're wanted is because they were horse thieves (and reputedly very good ones). This provides an explanation for why he's so good with horses later on in the film. If you were looking for one.
  • Chekhov's Skill: While training under Diego, Alejandro pulls himself over, under, and around a network of ropes. This saves the young Zorro’s life when he must do the same in the final duel against Captain Love at the mine.
  • Clark Kenting: When Diego assumes the guise of Alejandro's manservant "Bernardo". Lampshaded/Hand Waved with this bit of dialog:
    Alejandro: We'll never get away with this... What if [Rafael] Montero realizes who you are?
    Diego: Montero thinks of himself as a true nobleman; he will never look a servant in the eye.
  • *Click* Hello: In the prologue, the only warning that Don Rafael has come to arrest Diego is when one of his men cocks his gun.
  • Clothes Make the Legend: The original, now elderly and infirm, Zorro trains a successor to continue fighting the good fight. Wearing Zorro's trademark black hat, mask, rapier and whip, people think it's the same Zorro, come back to aid them once more, thus adding to his supernatural mystique. One elderly monk, who aided the original Zorro decades earlier, is astounded to meet the new one, commenting "Age certainly has been kinder to you than it has to me..."
  • Clothing Damage: Zorro fights Elena and manages to, essentially, cut her nightshirt off, though she still had pants (and Godiva Hair). In fairness, she attacked his clothes first.
  • Collective Identity: Anthony Hopkins plays the original Zorro (Don Diego de la Vega) and Anthony Banderas is his trainee and later son-in-law, Alejandro.
  • Combat Compliment: When Captain Love is fighting Alejandro, he compliments him by saying "you're doing well, your brother would've shot himself by now."
  • Combat Pragmatist: Don Rafael has no problem bringing a gun to a Sword Fight. Indeed, basically half the movie's fight scenes start with "hey, there's a sword at this guy's throat, drop your guns".
  • Confessional: Elena confesses her lust at seeing the new Zorro for the first time... only it's actually Zorro in the booth with her instead of the priest.
  • Cool Horse: Tornado, the horse of the original Zorro. Same goes for the Tornado of the New Zorro.
  • Cool Old Guy: Diego becomes one during his old age.
  • The Cowl: Zorro the black-clad masked outlaw with the boldness and skill to carve his initial into the property and, occasionally, persons of his opponents tends to inspire a certain amount of uneasiness. Not only was he too cunning for the authorities to catch, but he also delighted in publicly humiliating them.
  • Creepy Souvenir: Captain Love keeps body parts of his enemies in jars and drinks from them. To add to the creep factor, he invites Alejandro to drink from the jar containing his brother Joaquin's head.
    • The real-life Love did, in fact, keep Joaquin and Jack's head and hand in jars of alcohol. He displayed them, rather than drank from them, however.
  • Cruel Mercy: Montero lets Diego live in prison rather than killing him so that he can dwell on how everything he loves has been taken from him. Diego returns the favor at the end, having taken back Elena and ended Montero's schemes. It doesn't prevent Montero from suffering a Karmic Death, however.
  • Darker and Edgier: The original Alcalde is a grubby, greedy thief. Rafael Montero sees no problem with stealing other men's children, treason, and mass murder (though he does balk somewhat at the last one). Captain Pasquale is a saint compared to Captain Love.
  • Dawn of the Wild West: The movie starts during the closing days of the Mexican War of Independence.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Alejandro and Elena name their son Joaquin, after Alejandro's brother.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Don Diego, in spades.
    Don Diego (speaking about Alejandro's sword): Do you know how to use that thing?
    Alejandro: Yes. Pointy end goes into the other man.
    Don Diego (blank stare on his face): This is going to take a lot of work.
  • Death by Disfigurement: During the final fight, Alejandro cuts an M into Captain Love's face, a variant on the standard Z. Subsequently, the fight ends very, very quickly.
  • Deceptive Legacy: Rafael steals Diego's baby girl Elena, tells her that her mother died in childbirth, and raises her to believe he is her father. Diego is able to set the record straight with a little help from the woman who was baby Elena's nursemaid.
  • Defeat by Modesty: The (in)famous first duel between the new Zorro and Elena which ended with plenty of Clothing Damage and Godiva Hair.
  • Did You Actually Believe...?: Elena tried to stop Diego (her biological father) from killing Rafael (her adoptive father). Rafael promptly puts a gun to her head, and tells him to drop his sword. Once he does...
    Rafael: Did you really think I would kill my own daughter? (shoots Diego).
  • Door Closes Ending: The film ends with a door closing behind Alejandro as he strides out into the sunset.
  • Double Take: Rafael does one at his party when speaking with the Dons and glances at Elena and Alejandro's dance. After a moment, he realizes who is dancing and how passionate the dance is.
  • The Dragon: Captain Love.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: This is what Alejandro is doing when Diego first meets him, right after his brother was killed.
  • Dual Wielding: Both Diego and Alejandro with the crappy Zorro costume do it with a sword and a knife. Later, Alejandro, this time with the official costume, does it with two swords against Montero and Love.
  • Duel to the Death: The climax has two - Don Diego De La Vega vs. Don Rafael Monterro and Alejandro Murrieta vs. Captain Harrison Love.
  • Establishing Character Moment: For the first part of the movie, Captain Love appears to just be a snobby soldier who has no qualms about killing when he needs to. It's only later when we see that he drinks out of jars with human body parts in them, that we realize that he's actually crazy.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Montero with Elena. Also the main reason of taking the kid.
    Montero: Did you really think I would kill my own daughter?
    • Even though she married Don Diego, Don Rafael still had affection for Esperanza, and he is remorseful that she will have to live without a husband when he comes to arrest Diego. When Esperanza is killed (accidentally) by one of Rafael's men, Rafael is visibly shocked and angered and kills the shooter.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even Montero looks a little shocked at the suggestion that all the workers in the mine should die. He also seems genuinely amazed that Diego considers him capable of killing Elena.
    Montero: Get the children out of the plaza immediately!! (to Don Luis) The children should never have to see the things we do.
  • Evil Parents Want Good Kids: Montero raised Elena to be an Action Girl (she's had "the proper training" since she was four) Spirited Young Lady confident and educated enough to make her biological father proud of her, and she is clearly shocked at Montero's own moral alignment.
  • Face Framed in Shadow: Used by Don Diego to protect his secret identity when dressed in a padre's cowled robe… with the Zorro costume on underneath that.
  • Family Values Villain: Don Rafael Montero won't allow children to witness public executions he's staged to bring out Zorro, or tell his twenty-year old daughter Elena that he put her real father in a dungeon to die and that one of his soldiers accidentally killed her mother (Montero also promptly shot that soldier for it).
  • Fashions Never Change: Averted. Napoleonic-esque costumes and uniforms in the first few minutes of the film has largely changed to more Victorian styles in the the rest of the movie, set 20 years later.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Don Rafael tells Don Diego that he wants Diego to live, knowing he has lost everything, to suffer as Rafael had suffered, knowing Diego's child should have been his.
  • First Kiss: After beating her in their sword duel Zorro kissed Elena big time. Both because he loved her and to daze her into no longer wanting to fight.
  • Flaming Emblem: A particularly epic example occurs when Diego burns a giant Z into the countryside, to let Rafael know he's returned.
  • Flynning: Parodied when Alejandro flails his sword around, and Diego just knocks it out of his hand with a mere flick of his own sword. The rest of the movie plays Flynning straight, being a Swashbuckler and all, but there's a little bit more scuffling and dirty tricks than in the classic Flynning movies of the 30s and 40s.
  • Fork Fencing: Don Diego challenges Alejandro to a duel...with a spoon.
  • Funny Spoon: Diego challenges Alejandro to a duel. Alejandro grabs his sword. Diego brandishes a spoon. After the initial gag/double-take, Diego explains that the only way Alejandro's going to get within striking distance of the man he wants vengeance on is by learning guile, subterfuge... and courtly table manners.
  • The Gadfly: Alejandro, as Zorro delights himself with irritating his opponents, notably Elena and Captain Love.
  • Gaussian Girl: Elena. Somewhat justified during her first fight with Zorro in a dusty, pre-dawn barn.
  • Giant Mook: Alejandro encounters one in the fort while stealing a horse for himself, whom he defeats by bludgeoning the Mook's head with cannonballs. Said Mook falls over, spitting out his own teeth.
  • Godiva Hair: Elena is left clad in pajama bottoms and hair when Zorro slices her nightshirt off.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When Love decapitates Joaquin, the scene cuts to the medallion that Zorro gave to Joaquin and Alejandro falling to the ground, with Joaquin's blood on it.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Given it takes place in California, during both "Mexican province" and "joining the US" phases, justified.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Don Rafael Montero is funding Mexican dictator Santa Anna with gold for the Mexican War in exchange for California. However, Montero is ripping Santa Anna off by mining the gold from Santa Anna's land. When Zorro exposes Montero's scheme, Montero is so terrified of Santa Anna's wrath that he is (reluctantly) willing to kill mine workers in order to cover his tracks.
  • Groin Attack: Don Diego disarms a drunken Alejandro by doing one of these with a cane.
  • Hand-or-Object Underwear: After her Shameful Strip Elena grabs Zorro's hat to cover her chest. He snatches it back from her as he's leaving, causing her to grab her robe to cover herself instead.
  • He Cleans Up Nicely: Alejandro goes from being messy looking to looking like Antonio Banderas over the course of the movie. It is a testament to Antonio Banderas' acting skills that he manages to seem not charming until the makeover point.
    • Old, rather unkempt Don Diego gradually cleans up as Alejandro's training progresses. By the time he assumes the guise of Bernardo, his hair is pulled back, he's clean shaven, and he looks elegant even in servant's garb.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Three-Finger Jack and Joaquin Murieta were historical outlaws operating in California during the Gold Rush, and their gang was believed responsible for most of the murders in the Mother Lode area of the Sierra Nevadas. In the film they form a cheery band of outlaws with Joaquin's brother Alejandro, (who was invented for the film) who use guile to steal from the corrupt soldiers serving the government of California and seem content with humiliating their victims.
    • The case of Murrieta, however, is more complicated due to how his figure was already drenched in myths and urban legends way before the movie was made. According to The Other Wiki, depending on the point of view, he was considered an infamous bandit or a Mexican patriot, even nicknamed "The Mexican Robin Hood".
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Harrison Love is based loosely on California Ranger Capt. Harry Love, a veteran of the Mexican-American War who was tasked to bring down the "Five Joaquins" gang, of whom Murieta was the chief member. After successfully hunting down Murieta and killing him and Three-Fingered Jack in a shootout, Murieta's head and Jack's hand were preserved in alcohol and turned over for proof. Love was not exactly a psychotic killer as shown in the film, and the historical events occurred in 1853, well after California became a member of the United States (Mask of Zorro takes place over 10 years earlier).
  • Hold On to My Hat: Diego as Zorro gives a silver medallion to Alejandro and his brother as children after they help him fight some guards.
  • Honor Before Reason: Captain Love pulls a gun on Zorro, but then discards it and faces him in a Sword Fight.
  • Horsing Around: Alejandro tries to summon his horse, Tornado, with a whistle, so he can jump out of a window onto its back. The horse comes at the whistle, but is having none of this "leaping onto his back" stuff, and steps aside, causing Alejandro to land with a painful set of Amusing Injuries. This is also a throwback to an earlier scene where Diego did it without a hitch.
  • I Am Spartacus: Early in the film, after Zorro has been in prison for decades, Don Rafael returns to find him. Cue all the prisoners declaring "I Am Zorro!" (although, contrary to the trope's common usage, it doesn't appear that they were doing so to protect Zorro, as it was never implied they even knew that the real Zorro was among them).
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Captain Love likes to keep the severed body parts of his enemies in his drinking water and wine bottles, in hopes that consuming his enemies will allow him to see what he looks like through their eyes.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers, complete with lots and lots of Flynning, Blade Locking and (of course) Zorro Marking.
  • In the Hood: Don Rafael when he returns to California.
  • Innocent Innuendo: Elena during an exchange with Zorro after he defeats her in a duel.
    Zorro: Do you surrender?
    Elena: Never, but I may scream.
    Zorro: I understand. Sometimes I have that effect.
  • It Was a Gift: The silver medallion Alejandro's brother receives as a child plays a significant role later.
  • It's Personal with the Dragon: Alejandro doesn't care that much about Don Rafael, it's Captain Love who is his Arch-Enemy.
  • Just a Stupid Accent: Almost all of the Spanish noblemen speak English in Spanish accents for the entire film, except for one whose accent is British, but there is a translation scene in which Elena is addressed by a Mexican peasant woman who does NOT speak English. She speaks Nahuatl for a moment, and then her daughter translates into Spanish-accented English. It's a pretty good choice, in that no California Spanish noblewoman would be expected to speak an Indian language.
  • Just One Man:
    Captain Love: After all, it's only one man...
    Don Rafael: It isn't just one man, damn it. It's Zorro!
  • Karmic Death: Two of them: Captain Love is stabbed with his own sword, and Rafael is caught in the straps of a wagon full of gold which then drags him to his death. For bonus points, the wagon load of gold slams into Captain Love on the way down.
  • Kick the Dog: For the first fourth or so of the picture, Captain Love seems less like an evil villain and more like a lawman who is only an antagonist because the hero of the movie is an outlaw. Well, we can't have that sort of thing in our summer blockbusters. In order to avoid actually having to deal with moral complexity, we're treated to a scene where Zorro is conversing with the Captain and he randomly takes Zorro's brother's head out of his desk drawer, where it had been "marinating" in something presumably alcoholic, and Captain Love nonchalantly drinks a cupful of it. Drawn straight from the jar. To drive the point home, he tells our hero that he keeps the heads of everyone he kills, because he just loves killing people so very much.
    • Truth in Television, sort of... Captain Love was based upon a real life person named Harry Love - A member of the California Rangers - who did kill Joaquin Murrieta (Zorro's older brother in the film) in a fire fight; and history states that he did cut off Murrieta's head. However, it wasn't because he wanted the trophy, but because he needed the proof that the deed had been done.
    • Subverted when Rafael holds Elena at gunpoint during his final fight with Diego. Turns out he was bluffing—he would never harm Elena. He even seems genuinely surprised that Diego would find him willing to carry out such a threat.
  • Land in the Saddle: Alejandro tries to summon his horse, Tornado, with a whistle, so he can jump out of a window onto its back. The horse comes at the whistle, but is having none of this "leaping onto his back" stuff, and steps aside, causing Alejandro to land with a painful set of Amusing Injuries. This is also a throwback to an earlier scene where the previous Zorro did it without a hitch.
  • Leave No Witnesses: When it's planned that the mine is to be blown up, its peasant workers (including children) are also trapped to prevent witnesses.
  • Legacy Character: Zorro. Don Diego, The first Zorro trains Alejandro to take up the mantle years later.
  • Lessons in Sophistication: Don Diego de la Vega (the former Zorro), now an old Impoverished Patrician who had his child abducted and raised by his nemesis, teaches the new Zorro (Alejandro Murrieta, who was a thug and Zorro's fan) on how to be classy so he can infiltrate the party that his nemesis held.
  • The Lost Lenore: Esperanza is this to both Diego and Rafael, as Diego's beloved wife and the woman that Rafael wanted to marry.
  • Ludicrous Melee Accuracy: Alejandro relieves Elena of her night-dress with a few sword slashes. Zorro is very good at killing cloth.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Diego reveals this to her by completing an anecdote only he would know.
  • Magnificent Moustaches of Mexico: Subverted — Diego puts on a fake fancypants moustache when he disguises as Don Diego.
  • Mating Dance: Elena and Alejandro at the ball. Don Rafael, who witnesses it, is not happy.
  • Meaningful Echo: In the beginning in the movie, Don Diego was telling his adventures to his baby daughter before abruptly changing the ending, as his wife was watching in amusement. Then, at the end of the movie, Alejandro, the new Zorro, was telling a story to his newborn child, before quickly changing the story's ending, as he noticed his wife (Don Diego's daughter) was watching him.
  • Mentor Archetype: Tthe original Zorro, Don Diego de la Vega, plays the Mentor to his chosen successor, Alejandro Murrieta.
  • Mock Millionaire: Alejandro poses as a Spanish aristocrat, with Diego pretending to be his valet.
  • Moody Mount: Tornado (the second one).
  • Mook Chivalry: The film demonstrates why the first part of the Mook Code of Conduct, while not necessarily smart, is still not an entirely stupid idea. At one point in the movie, several dozen mooks rush the new Zorro at once, and in the ensuing dogpiling confusion, Zorro gets away cleanly.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The scene in which Zorro unsheathes his sword for the final showdown VS Captain Love, letting the sun's glare slowly glide along the blade which, according to the director's commentary, was not CGI and just Antonio Banderas showing off!
  • Mutual Kill: Diego and Rafael mortally wound each other during their climactic duel.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Diego's alias as Alejandro's manservant is Bernardo, who in the original series was the name of Diego's manservant. Other elements like the giant flaming Z and Zorro hiding in a confessional also appeared in older Zorro movies. The title "The Mask of Zorro" itself is just one letter away from the first Zorro movie, The Mark of Zorro.
    • Alejandro's brother is a bandit named Joaquín Murrieta. There was a real bandit in California named Joaquín Murrieta (although he was active years after the film is set), and that Murrieta is considered a likely inspiration of the literary Zorro.
  • Naked Freak-Out: When Elena notices Zorro sliced off her shirt she gasps and quickly covers herself with his hat. Moments later as he's leaving, he snatches his hat back from her, rendering her topless again moments before her father and Captain Love burst into the room, prompting her to use her robe to cover herself.
  • Naked People Are Funny:
    • When Elena gets her dress cut off by Zorro she is left in a state of half undress (she wears a modest form of old fashioned underwear but her upper half is completely exposed but for very long hair placed over her chest) we are invited, rightly or wrongly, to chuckle at her predicament, especially after she went in believing that she would win the duel, and even more so when she briefly forgets how embarrassed she is after Zorro kisses her passionately - only to be reminded of indecent exposure when Zorro snatches his hat from her (which she was using to cover herself) and then she is almost caught topless by her foster father and his mooks. To be fair, she held her own pretty well before Zorro stripped her.
    • In Alejandro's introduction, the military officer present, Corporal Armando Garcia, winds up tied together with his men around a cluster of cacti, stripped naked.
  • Noble Demon: Rafael is an evil aristocrat, but he's also a loving father who refuses to harm children and expresses disgust at his Dragon's sadism. Even his Moral Event Horizon moment—holding Elena at gunpoint—is a subversion because it turns out to be a bluff.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: If the horses in this movie could talk, it would make for very snarky conversation. Also weird...
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: A review cracked that it would be easy for Montero to figure out who Zorro was, because he's the only one in Old California with a British (Welsh) accent!
  • Oblivious Adoption: Elena naturally has no idea Rafael stole her from Diego as a baby.
  • The Old Convict: Don Diego becomes one of these, after he gives up hope when he is arrested, his home destroyed, and his wife and child apparently killed. After twenty years, though, he finds the strength to break out.
  • Old-School Chivalry:
    Alejandro: All that shooting guns, racing around on horses - gives me a frightful headache. It’s hardly the work of a gentleman.
    Elena: What is? Climbing in and out of carriages?
    Alejandro: No, but increasing one's holdings so as to provide comfort to ladies. Such as yourself.
  • One-Handed Zweihänder: Downplayed. Cavalry sabres are swung one-handed on horseback, but on foot are far more effective when used with both hands. This doesn't stop Captain Harrison Love from not only wielding his sabre one-handed, but attempting to fence with it, against an opponent armed with a rapier, mirroring Zorro's stance despite having a far heavier and more awkward blade. While Love can hold his own at first, he's clearly overmatched, and when Zorro gains the upper hand, Love abandons this impractical fighting style and starts swinging his sabre with both hands.
  • One-Man Army: Both Diego and Alejandro have no difficulty taking on large groups of soldiers and other thugs single-handedly; it's a trademark of the character.
    Diego: There are maybe twenty-five, thirty guards... nothing Zorro can't overcome.
  • Out of the Inferno: All the imprisoned miners emerge from the smoke after one of the most intense explosions ever filmed blew everything around them to splinters.
  • Passing the Torch: The entire point of the film seemed to involve this.
    [Alejandro and Diego are arguing about Diego going after Elena versus helping the slaves at the mine.]
    Alejandro: What about California? What about the people?
    Diego: [meaning Alejandro] They still have Zorro.
  • Pet the Dog: Coupled with Papa Wolf, Rafael genuinely loves Elena, despite the fact that she isn't really his daughter. He takes her in, raises her well (to the point of distancing her from his dirty dealings), all without spoiling her. Two good examples of how genuine it is are when Captain Love takes an opportunity to try and shoot Diego, and Rafael, fearing that Love may accidentally shoot Elena, immediately pushes him away; and when he holds her at gunpoint to get Diego to drop his sword, then bluntly and angrily reveals that he never intended to shoot her.
  • Point That Somewhere Else: Alejandro does this to Elena when she holds a rapier to his neck, and it turns into flirtation between them.
  • Post-Kiss Catatonia: After they duel, Zorro and Elena kiss passionately and after it's over Zorro coyly snatches back the hat she's using to cover herself, but she's too dazed by the kiss to react to her nudity until her father bursts into the room.
  • Powder Trail: Used by Montero and Love in an attempt to destroy the gold mine with the slave workers still inside.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The film neatly introduced Zorro to a new generation by making Don Diego the mentor to a new Zorro and adding healthy lashings of tongue-in-cheek humour.
  • Protected by a Child: Although she was an adult at the time (twenty years old) the trope is otherwise played straight between Elena and Diego. When Diego is about to kill Rafael, Elena throws herself between them, begging her biological father not to kill the man who raised her.
  • Psycho for Hire: Captain Love doesn't care about Rafael's plans and is in it for the pay and the chance to collect trophies.
  • The Queen's Latin: Both Don Diego and Don Rafael speak with British accents despite being Mexican, partly because they are of the nobility, partly because they're played by British actors Anthony Hopkins and Stuart Wilson. The other Dons all have Hispanic accents, however.
  • Raised By Rival: The daughter of the original Zorro, Don Diego, is kidnapped by his enemy Don Rafael as revenge. Rafael raises Elena as if his own daughter, loving her just as much. Part of his may be in memory of her mother Esperanza, who was loved by both Diego and Rafael.
  • Recycled In Space:
    • Main character is a hopeless loser who gets trained up to be awesome by an old master? Not a particularly common plot for a swashbuckler, but extremely popular for kung fu movies.
    • In a similar vein, during Alejandro's fight in the outpost with the dozens of guards, everybody stops swordfighting for a second and just pauses, going this way and that based on how Alejandro moves. A little reminiscent of Jidai Geki swordfights.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: James Horner re-used parts of his score for Willow.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Archenemies Don Diego and Don Rafael. Diego is the passionate Non-Idle Rich with a more aggressive dueling style while Rafael is pragmatic, Aristocrats Are Evil, with a more defensive dueling style.
  • Relative Button: Captain Love taunts Zorro with this during their duel after learning that he is Alejandro, the surviving Murrieta brother.
    Captain Love: You're doing well. Your brother would have shot himself by now.
  • Reluctant Fanservice Girl: Elena becomes one after Zorro gives her a very humbling Shameful Strip.
  • Retired Badass: Don Diego de la Vega is a borderline example, as he is the original Zorro that is captured for decades until training a new Zorro, his protégé Alejandro, years later. Straddles the line with an Older and Wiser mentor.
  • Revealing Injury: Don Rafael proves Don Diego de la Vega is Zorro when he grabs Diego's left arm, causing him pain, and the arm starts bleeding. And Rafael knows Zorro was injured in the same spot earlier that day...
    Don Rafael: Blood never lies...Zorro.
  • Revised Ending: The DVD includes an alternate ending where Alejandro and Elena meet General Santa Anna while walking away from the mine with all the rescued prisoners. Joaquim de Almeida plays Santa Anna in this scene.
  • Rise from Your Grave: Don Diego de la Vega appears to die and is buried. As soon as his grave is left alone, he breaks out of it.
  • Say My Name: At the climax Diego and Rafael have an understated version, where it's practically a whisper. It actually makes it more powerful.
    Rafael: de la Vega.
    Diego: Rafael. (punches him).
  • A Scar to Remember: Done twice: firstly by Diego, who leaves a Z-shaped scar on the neck of Don Rafael during a fight; then by Alejandro, who leaves an M-shaped scar on the cheek of Captain Love.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Captain Love does this— a lot. The biggest one is just before the cart full of gold flattens him.
  • Self-Proclaimed Knight: Don Diego de la Vega as the mysterious black-clad rider who fights injustice in Spanish California and Don Alejandro Murrieta de la Vega takes up this role, continuing it to The Legend of Zorro.
  • Shameful Strip:
    • Elena is stripped, albeit humorously, by Zorro after their duel. First when he slices off her nightshirt, and later in the same scene when he takes off the hat she's covering herself with.
    • Played for Laughs as well when the Murrieta brothers tie a group of captured Mexican soldiers by the wrists and place them around a cactus, facing it and stripped from the waist down. If any of the soldiers tries to get away from the cactus, the one on the other side will get the... touch of the cactus in his privates.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: The feminine Elena surprises Alejandro with her fierceness when she pulls a sword on him.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Played rather cleverly during and after Elena and Zorro's swordfight.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: Three-Fingered Jack, enslaved in a gold mine run by Don Rafael Montero, expounds to the gathered Dons about how his crimes pale in comparison to theirs of enslavement.
  • Smash the Symbol: The opening scene has a peasant climbing a flagpole during a riot in order to rip down a Spanish flag.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Captain Love appears to have joined the army for the violence, and even after his discharge, approaches his mercenary work with the same outlook.
  • Spirited Young Lady: Elena wants to keep the commandments and tries to behave the way her father would like her to but her heart is too wild. She can both dance gracefully with Captain Harrison Love or sword fight with Zorro. She also makes her view of politics known at dinner.
  • Spiteful Spit: Joaquin does this to Captain Love, after he's surrounded by him and his soldier.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Alejandro's Zorro has a strange way of making this happen a lot.
  • Stuffed In To The Fridge: Alejandro witnesses the sacrifice and beheading of his own brother, Joaquin, by Captain Love, and later (after being trained by the elder Zorro and now disguised as a nobleman) the murder of his friend Three-Fingered Jack. Captain Love suspects that Alejandro is Joaquin's brother despite passing as a nobleman- so he displays Joaquin's severed head and Jack's mutilated hand to Alejandro to get a reaction. Alejandro calmly responds to Captain Love's prodding, but it's clear by the end of it that he's itching to kill him.
  • Sword Cane: Alejandro has one when he poses as a Don. He doesn't use it though. In fact, the only reason we know it's a swordstick at all is that he checks it briefly before attending the banquet.
  • Sword Fight:
    • Alejandro and Diego have a sword fight in a bar and all Diego is using is his cane! They later have several training fights.
    • Later Alejandro (as Zorro) has a sword fight with Captain Love and Montero!
    • In the next scene Alejandro fights Elena in a barn which he wins and then he cuts her shirt off, kisses her, then leaves!
    • At the last scene, old and new Zorro are fighting their archenemies to the death, Zorro 2 (Alejandro) manages to kill Captain Love first but unfortunately Montero kills Diego first but is then killed due to being tied to a falling crate of gold.
  • "Take That!" Kiss: A couple during Zorro and Elena's duel.
    Elena: (after Zorro has slashed Elena's nightgown) Not bad.
    (another move and now they're in each other's faces)
    Zorro: Not bad at all. (plants a kiss on Elena's mouth)
  • Take Up My Sword: It isn't clear if the sword the new Zorro uses is in fact the same one as the one used by the original, but he received the mantle of Zorro all along.
  • Taking the Bullet: A rare unintentional example: Esperanza hears baby Elena crying and rushes across the room to get to her at the exact same time one of Rafael's men fires at Don Diego.
  • Taking the Kids: In an unusual (and villainous) example, Don Rafael takes Diego's daughter Elena and raises her as his own, telling her that her mother died in childbirth.
  • Teeth Flying: Zorro picks up two cannonballs in each hand and hits a Giant Mook with them. The man spits out several teeth and passes out.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Not only does Captain Love get stabbed clean through by Zorro (with his own sword, no less), but he also gets piledriven by a wagon loaded with gold bricks.
  • Time-Passage Beard: Diego is imprisoned for twenty years, emerging with long hair and a grey beard, which he keeps and trims for a period, before shaping into a moustache and goatee and finally shaving off entirely as part of a disguise.
  • Title Drop: "There are many who would proudly wear The Mask of Zorro."
  • Tragic Keepsake: The silver medallion gifted from Zorro to Joaquin becomes one to Alejandro after he is killed.
  • Trickster Mentor: Diego, who employs Training from Hell towards Alejandro.
  • Unflinching Walk: At the end, Alejandro and Elena and many refugees walk away from the collapsing scaffolding of the mine that Don Montero was going to blow up, leaving the enslaved Indian slaves inside.
  • Unfriendly Fire: In the prologue, Zorro makes his presence known to the crowd when he wraps his whip around the muskets of the firing squad, forcing them to fire at the squad commander.
  • Weaponized Ball: Alejandro grabs a pair of grapeshot cannonballs during a fight with a huge, brutish soldier and proceeds to bludgeon the latter about the face with them, resulting in several lost teeth.
  • What the Fu Are You Doing?: A swordfighting example. As Alejandro begins his apprenticeship with Diego, he shows off some flashy yet flailing maneuvers. The old Zorro then disarms him with one strike, and starts showing him how it's really done.
  • Whip It Good: Diego has a thing for cigars, black leather, and whips, even if he's not Zorro anymore.
  • Would Not Hurt A Child: Subverted. Rafael goes out of his way to avoid harming children. Early in the film, he orders his men to remove all children from the execution plaza because he feels that children should not be exposed to the cruel acts he is willing to commit. He also adopts his archenemy's daughter and raises her well, and when Captain Love suggests killing the mine workers (many of them small children), Rafael is visibly disturbed...though, of course, he agrees to go through with it anyway, not to mention he was forcing them to work those mines in unsafe conditions to begin with, and even ordering the children out of the plaza might be more of a Faux Affably Evil moment for the veneer of his reputation than genuine kindness, given how ruthless he is otherwise.
  • You Fight Like a Cow: Alejandro cheerfully mocks his opponents whenever coming to grips with them.
  • You Have Failed Me: Don Rafael stabs a Mook Lieutenant, after the soldier shoots Esperanza.
  • You Killed My Father: Alejandro's wants revenge against Captain Love after he kills his brother.
  • Zen Survivor: Diego becomes one in his old age, years after Rafael ruined his life.
  • Zorro Mark: Besides the obvious "Z"s, Alejandro cuts an "M" for Murrieta into the cheek of his brother's killer.

Top

Example of:

/

Feedback